In an interview with Manorama Online, Jeethu Joseph spelt out his assessment of ‘Oozham’. “It is a revenge story. In terms of a script, we don’t claim any novelty. In world cinema, revenge has been a popular theme. We worked on that base,” the director said.
Sadly, after watching ‘Oozham’ last night, I realized Jeethu’s words could not be truer. It was as he said — a mediocre revenge drama that whirls around a man who is out on a mission to punish those who messed with his life. Jeethu, who kept Malayalis on tenterhooks with his brilliant suspense-drama film ‘Drishyam’, unfortunately does not produce any out-of-the-world moments in ‘Oozham’.
Soorya Krishnamurthy (Prithviraj Sukumaran), who specialises in controlled explosion techniques, comes home from the US for two weeks to spend time with his family consisting of his father (Balachandra Menon), a health department officer, mother (Seetha), sister (Rasna) and adopted brother Ajmal (Neeraj Madhav). The first 30-minutes of the movie is spent in establishing the closely-knit family and exhibiting their relationships. A police officer (Kishore Satya), who happens to be a friend of Soorya’s father, and his sister Gayatri (Divya Pillai), for whom Soorya instantly develops feelings, are introduced in no time. But before the romance could blossom, tragedy strikes the two families and suddenly, Soorya, Ajmal and Gayatri are left searching for answers in the darkness. When grief washes over, the trio is propelled by a strong urge to take the law into their hands (we wonder why!) and hunt down the people who caused them hurt. How they strike down each of their enemies (quite easily) like pins on bowling lanes forms the rest of the movie.
Jeethu has employed a form of non-linear narrative (not usually seen in Malayalam films) in ‘Oozham’, but it doesn’t really seem to have worked. The continuous back-and-forth between the normal track of the film with a never-ending fight sequence felt quite disjointed. The director’s attempts to give a technological edge to the film in the form of explosions (yes, there are a lot of them) also fails to evoke any reaction. The absence of any good use of technology and VFX continues to this day in Mollywood when neighbouring southern industries are scoring up a notch. Also, the fact that three languages – Malayalam, Tamil and English – were interspersed quite randomly in the form of dialogues between characters was not handled well.
The strength of a good film lies in its script and a plot that hurtles forward at a good speed. Sadly, ‘Oozham’s is one that loses steam and sputters on its way. Yes, there are a few noteworthy moments especially in the first half when Soorya’s happy family provoke a few laughs, but they simply cannot salvage the fate of a film that walks on a weak thread. As the plot unravels in the second half, loopholes develop and there are no attempts to fill them. The police officers are once again portrayed to be clueless and standing idle on the sidelines as the heroes and villains engage in the duel.
As far as the acting department goes, Prithviraj and Neeraj Madhav certainly stand out as two actors whose talent goes wasted. If there is one actor in Malayalam cinema who can pull off an action-heavy revenge-thriller film, it’s Prithviraj, but the actor’s capabilities seemed beset by a weak script in ‘Oozham.’ V Jayaprakash as the English-mouthing villain fails to impress as well.
The one big relief in the film is that Jeethu has not tried to inject song sequences or a romantic narrative into it, which would have annoyed viewers more. ‘Oozham’ stays true to an ordinary revenge saga with nothing much to offer. Quite frankly, there’s nothing much one would miss by not watching it as well.